A study has found that smokers trying to quit the habit who enjoyed support via mobile phone messaging had double the success rate of those quitters operating on their own.

The study looked at five previous studies totalling more than 9,000 participants. Three of the studies used only SMS as an aid for smokers trying to quit, while one used web support alongside SMS, and a single trial used only video messaging sent to users’ phones.

The lead author of the study was Robyn Whittaker from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

The study, which was published on The Cochrane Library website, found that phone messaging had nearly double the success rate compared to the rate for those smokers who struggled along without such assistance.

Nine percent of potential quitters managed to keep off the cigarettes for at least six months when receiving messaging support against five percent of those smokers who did not have support.

The messaging services followed in the studies supported smokers both before and after they actually stopped the habit.  

The nine percent figure for messaging was comparable to other anti-smoking support such as telephone help lines and nicotine substitution therapy. The advantage that mobile phone-based approaches have over helplines is they are more cost effective to run for the relevant healthcare provider. Plus mobile phones have greater affinity for audiences in the developing world.